Thursday, May 2, 2013

Summary of Findings (Green Team): Brain Training (2.5 out of 5 stars)

Brain Training
Green Team
Rating (2.5 out of 5 Stars)

Note: This post represents the synthesis of the thoughts, procedures and experiences of others as represented in the 8 articles read in advance (see previous posts) and the discussion among the students and instructor during the Advanced Analytic Techniques class at Mercyhurst University in May 2013 regarding Brain Training specifically. This technique was evaluated based on its overall validity, simplicity, flexibility and its ability to effectively use unstructured data.

Brain training is an analytic modifier that seeks to improve memory, logic, pattern recognition, and other cognitive functions by having participants play games related to these fields. It is currently unknown how well brain training transfers to intelligence analysis, as well as the effect size and the longevity of the effects.   

  • Test results may improve with repetition
  • Brain training may lead to other habits and interactions that increase cognitive function
  • Transferability of learned cognitive functions has been shown across similar tasks
  • Can be incorporated into games that appeal to a wide range of people

  • Transference of skills to dissimilar tasks has not been adequately demonstrated
  • Difficult to measure the effectiveness of the training on tasks completed in the workplace or general interactions
  • Improvement may be correlated to the interest in the activity rather than cognitive improvement

  1. Create a test, survey, etc. whereby participants will take the test multiple times in order to monitor any changes between tests
  2. Establish a baseline intelligence performance (for example, take a survey or run a test the first time through)
  3. Conduct the test as many times as planned while measuring results
  4. Examine differences between performances both within the test subjects and between the test subjects
  5. Report any significant or insignificant changes over time, or in comparison to previous studies

Personal Application of Technique:
The class was tasked individually to complete a brain training exercise on the site that tested the areas of memory, visual-spatial, concentration, logic, and executive functions. The class participated in the same game twice, recording the overall scores both times, in addition to their best and worst categories in each game. The results were mixed across the class. One participant doubled his scores, while another’s score improved in two areas and declined in another two.

The participants suggested reasons for their increased scores that were unrelated to the actual cognitive improvement brain training purports to provide. For instances, better understanding the instructions of the activities or knowing what to expect likely greatly affected the results. Additionally, participants suggested they changed their methods of completing the activities strategically during the second execution.

Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

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